UPSC/STATE PSC

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The Hindu & Indian Express


News 1: India eyes IMF support ahead of G20 chair

Background:

  • India will soon be taking over the G20 chair in December where the agendas such as debates and climate change will be discussed while India will take up some of the issues.

About IMF:

  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF), a Bretton Woods institution, works to achieve sustainable growth and prosperity for all of its 190 member countries. 
  • It does so by supporting economic policies that promote financial stability and monetary cooperation, which are essential to increase productivity, job creation, and economic well-being.

Primary functions of IMF

  1. Facilitate international monetary cooperation
  2. To promote exchange rate stability and orderly exchange arrangements
  3. To assist in the establishment of multilateral payment systems and elimination of foreign exchange restrictions.
  4. Providing assistance to member countries by providing short term capital to correct maladjustment in Balance of Payments.
  5. Encourages the expansion of trade and economic growth

Reports published by IMF: World economic outlook, Global Financial Stability Report, Fiscal Monitor, Regional Economic Outlook

About G20:

  • It is an intergovernmental forum of 19 countries and the European Union.
  • It works to address major issues related to the global economy, such as international financial stability, climate change mitigation, and sustainable development.
  • Together, the G20 members represent more than 80 percent of world GDP, 75 percent of international trade and 60 percent of the world population. 

Members: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union. Spain is also invited as a permanent guest.


News 2: CBDC to reduce, cost in cross-border business: RBI’s Sankar

Background:

  • RBI Bank Deputy Governor R. Rabi Sankar expressed that CBDC (Central bank digital currency), which is to be introduced this year, could become a tool for reducing time and cost for cross-border transactions.
  •  Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Budget 2022-23 announced to roll out CBDC, which is digital equivalent of a rupee, on a pilot basis this fiscal year.

About CBDC:

  • A CBDC is the legal tender issued by a central bank in a digital form. It is the same as a fiat currency and is exchangeable one-to-one with the fiat currency. Only its form is different.
  • It is sovereign currency in an electronic form, and it would appear as liability (currency in circulation) on a central bank’s balance sheet. CBDCs should be exchangeable at par with cash.

Benefits:

  • Internationalization of CBDC is crucial to addressing the payments issue that bodies like G-20 and Bank for International Settlements (BIS) are dealing with now.
  • CBDC of two countries can settle transactions without a waiting time and this reduces risk and cost of cross border transactions and ultimately leads to globalization of payment systems.
  • India’s high currency to GDP ratio holds out another benefit of CBDCs. As large cash usage which involves the cost of printing, transporting, storing and distributing currency can be reduced by CBDCs.
  • Central banks seek to meet the public’s need for digital currencies, manifested in the increasing use of private virtual currencies, and thereby avoid the more damaging consequences of such private currencies.

Associated challenges of adopting CBDCs:

  • CBDCs, depending on the extent of its use, can cause a reduction in the transaction demand for bank deposits. This might lead to shifting away from bank deposits, which in turn might reduce the need for government guarantees on deposits.
  • If banks begin to lose deposits over time, their ability for credit creation gets constrained.  Since central banks cannot provide credit to the private sector, the impact on the role of bank credit needs to be well understood. 
  • Availability of CBDC makes it easy for depositors to withdraw balances if there is stress on any bank. So, bank runs may be easier now.

News 3 – Xi, Putin to hold talks in Uzbekistan

Background:

China’s President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold talks next week on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Uzbekistan, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also attend.

About SCO:

  • SCO is a permanent intergovernmental international organization, established in 2001, and aims to maintain peace, security and stability in the region.
  • Prior to creation of SCO in 2001, Shanghai Five was there which included the members China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan
  • Headquarter: Beijing
  • Members: China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, Pakistan. India and Pakistan became members in 2017. In September 2021, it was announced Iran will become a full-time member.
  • Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure – Shanghai Cooperation Organization (RATS-SCO): RATS is a permanent body of the SCO and is intended to facilitate coordination and interaction between the SCO member states in the fight against terrorism, extremism and separatism.

News 4: Ukraine backs UN peace force at nuclear plant

Background:

  • Ukraine would support the deployment of UN peacekeepers at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia plant, a day after the UN atomic watchdog called for a security zone around the site.

Details:

  • IAEA called for a demilitarised security zone to be established at the plant in southern Ukraine, which the Russians took over in March. There has been repeated shelling around the site, sparking fears of a nuclear disaster.

About Zaporizhzhia plant:

  • It is Europe’s largest nuclear power plant and is included in top 10 nuclear power plants by capacity.
  • It was built by the Soviet Union near the city of Enerhodar, on the southern shore of the Kakhovka Reservoir on the Dnieper river.

About IAEA:

  • The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization on 29 July 1957. Though established independently of the United Nations through its own international treaty (the IAEA Statute), the IAEA reports to both the General Assembly and the Security Council of the UN.
  • IAEA serves as an intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical co-operation on the peaceful use of nuclear technology and nuclear power worldwide
  • Head Quarter- Vienna, Austria
  • India is a member. Almost all except few countries like North-Korea are not its members.

 


News 5: Army takes major infra drive along LAC in Arunachal

Background:

  • After significantly upgrading firepower and infrastructure along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh, the Army is on a major drive for capability and infrastructure development in the rest of Arunachal Pradesh.

Details of infrastructure development:

  • This includes road, bridges, tunnels, habitat and storage facilities, aviation facilities and upgrade of communications and surveillance, especially in the Upper Dibang Valley region, according to multiple Army officials.
  • A capability development matrix was being employed and road development, construction of habitat and aviation facilities are under way.
  • India has two road axis in the forested area in Lohit and Siang; now, efforts were underway to improve infrastructure across the board.

About Border Roads Organization:

  • BRO was conceived and raised in 1960 for coordinating the speedy development of a network of roads in the North and the Northeastern border regions of the country.
  • To support the armed forces, meet their strategic needs by committed, dedicated and cost-effective development and sustenance of the infrastructure.
  • It works under the administrative control of the Ministry of Defence.

News 6: Breather for coal plants draws anguish

Background:

  • The Union Environment Ministry has for the third time extended the deadline by which coal plants must install pollution-control technologies to reduce emissions, drawing criticism from environment and clean-energy activists.

Details of the extended norms:

  • The Ministry first specified emission norms for the control of sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and mercury (Hg) from coal-fired power plants in December 2015.
  • According to the latest notification, power plants within a 10-km radius of the NCR and in the vicinity of cities with a population of more than one million have until December 31, 2024, to meet the deadline. 
  • For power plants within a 10-km radius of “critically polluted” areas (as designated by the Environment Ministry), the deadline has been extended to December 31, 2025. Finally, for all other power plants across the country, the deadline stands at December 31, 2026.

Problems associated with extended deadline for compliance:

  • Sunil Dahiya, analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, has expressed that the basic science and chemistry of SO2’s role behind building up PM2.5 concentrations through sulphate formation is being ignored.
  • Nivit Yadav of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), said, Our analysis shows that till date, only 4% of India’s coal power capacity has installed equipment to control SO2 emissions and another 41% has identified the vendors for equipment. The remaining 55% of the capacity has not taken any concrete steps to meet the norms.”

News 7: WHO to stress prevention of non-communicable diseases

Background:

  • The member countries of the World Health Organization (WHO) South-East Asia Region on Wednesday resolved to accelerate progress for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases, including oral and eye afflictions.

Non-communicable diseases:

  • As per WHO, Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), also known as chronic diseases, tend to be of long duration and are the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behavioral factors.
  • Non-communicable diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes, account for almost two-thirds of all deaths in the region.
  • Nearly half these deaths occur prematurely between the ages of 30 and 69 in 2021.

Socio-economic impact of NCDs:

  • NCDs threaten progress towards achieving the target of reducing premature deaths from NCDs by one-third by 2030, which is one of the goals of Sustainable Development Goals.
  • The rapid rise in NCDs is predicted to impede poverty reduction initiatives in low-income countries, particularly by increasing household costs associated with health care.Vulnerable and socially disadvantaged people get sicker and die soon. As they are exposed to harmful products, such as tobacco, or unhealthy dietary practices, and have limited access to health services.
  • Due to low resources, NCDs rapidly drain household resources and increase out of pocket expenditure burden and push few of these people to poverty and this again hampers development of both country and the person.

About WHO:

  • WHO is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health.
  • The WHO Constitution states its main objective as “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health”.
  • HeadquarterGeneva, Switzerland.

News 8: BRO to maintain paths to Amarnath temple

Background:

  • The J&K administration has handed over the twin routes to the Amarnath cave temple in the highly ecologically sensitive locations in south and central Kashmir to the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) for maintenance.

About Amarnath temple:

  • Amarnath Temple is located in the Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Amarnath cave is the abode of Mahamaya Shakti Peetha, which is one of the 51 peethas present in India.
  • The cave is an ice cave, it contains a certain amount of ice stalagmites.
  • The surrounding basins of the temples are feeding glaciers for many streams, including the famous Lidder stream in Pahalgam. Both Pahalgam in south Kashmir and Sonamarg in central Kashmir are used as base camps and are covered by dense forests.

 


News 9: Cabinet approves PM SHRI scheme

Background:

  • The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the PM Schools for Rising India’ (PM SHRI) scheme to turn existing government schools into model schools for implementation of the National Education Policy, 2022.

About PM SHRI (PM Schools for Rising India) scheme:

  • Type: Centrally sponsored scheme
  • Outlay: Total project cost of ₹27,360 crore, with the Centre’s share being ₹18,128 crore 
  • Time: For a period of five years from 2022-23 to 2026-27
  • Targets: Transforming nearly 14,500 schools across the country.
  • Requirements: Schools will be selected only if the State government agrees to implement the NEP entirely and aligned with quality standards laid down by the Centre and schools will be monitored regularly.
  • These schools will be equipped with modern infrastructure including labs, smart classrooms, libraries, sports equipment, art room etc. which is inclusive and accessible. 
  • These schools shall also be developed as green schools with water conservation, waste recycling, energy-efficient infrastructure and integration of organic lifestyle in curriculum.

News 10: Positive secularism is allowed: student to SC in case

Background:

  • India believes in ‘positive secularism’ based on tolerance of all religious faiths and not ‘negative secularism’ followed in countries like France which holds that display of religion in public is offensive, Aishat Shifa, a student from Karnataka who has challenged the ban on wearing hijab to school, told the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Secularism:

  • Secularism is a doctrine which opposes intra-religious and inter-religious forms of domination. It promotes freedom within religions and equality, between, as well as within, religions. 
  • Western model of secularism does not allow interference of the state in religion and vice-versa.
  • Indian secularism opposes both inter-religious and intra-religious domination, deals with religious freedom of individuals and minority communities, and encourages state supported religious reform.
  • India also does not have an official religion and normally is disengaged with religion but may engage with religion if required so as to support peaceful coexistence.

“Western dictionaries define secularism as absence of religion but Indian secularism does not mean irreligiousness.It means profusion of religions.”


News 11: New Delhi, Dhaka hail Ganga panel

Background:

India and Bangladesh welcomed the establishment of a joint technical committee to study the use of Ganga waters in Bangladesh, a joint statement issued on the third day of the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said on Wednesday.

Ganga water sharing treaty:

  • The Ganga Water Sharing Treaty is a 30-year agreement which is expected to be reviewed or renewed in 2026.
  • The treaty was signed on 12 December 1996 and is essentially regarding the sharing of lean-season flows.
  • India shall release downstream of Farakka Barrage, water at a rate not less than 90% (ninety per cent) of Bangladesh’s share.

India – Bangladesh cooperation:

  • The Indian side also raised the “urgent” irrigation-related requirements in Tripura which can be addressed with the waters of the Feni,  and urged Bangladesh for “early signing of the interim water sharing agreement” on the river.
  • Multiple rail track projects such as Benapole-Jashori and others will create a smooth flow of goods and people within Bangladesh overcoming infrastructure bottlenecks.
  • India and Bangladesh have been in talks for the construction of an Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Sirajganj in the north-west of capital Dhaka and help in movement of bulk items.
  • Both countries reviewed the progress of the India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline which will further boost energy supply in Bangladesh.

About Feni River:

  • It is a trans-boundary river between Bangladesh and India (Tripura)
  • The Feni River originates in South Tripura district and flows through Sabroom town and then enters Bangladesh

News 12: Encroached drains, construction boom: Why Bengaluru drowned

Background:

  • Recently, the tech city Bengaluru, was submerged under water triggering fears, health hazards and property damages.

Reasons behind flooding:

  • Heavy rains contributed to the collapse of urban infrastructure
  • Unauthorized and unabated construction and encroached drain stopped the natural drainage and led to urban flooding
  • As per experts, poor drainage system, drains were clogged with solid and building demolition waste, unscientific remodeling which included narrowing and concretization of drains, loss of interconnectivity among lakes (as concretized drains increases the velocity of rainwater), and encroachment of buffer areas has exacerbation of flooding in Bengaluru.

Solutions to reduce flooding:

  • New culverts and drains need to be introduced so as to move water along valley sections in Bengaluru.
  • Widening of existing drains
  • Water sensitive urban design and planning and green infrastructure approach for stormwater management.
  • Mapping areas that were previously affected by floods, on the basis of geography will help create flood risk assessment.

News 13: Covid distress: One in 6 MSME loan accounts under Govt pandemic relief package turns NPA

Background:

  • Under the Right to Information Act, it was found that loans provided under Extended Credit Line Guarantee Scheme have turned bad in just 27 months.

Details:

  • The defaults are mainly in the lower end of the loan bands (upto 20 lakhs).
  • National Credit Guarantee Trustee Company Ltd, has said in response to RTI, 16.4% of the total 98.86 lakh accounts, disbursed since May 2020 may turn into NPA.
  • Rationale provided by some experts, mention that as per current NPA categorization norms, if even one loan account of customers turns bad, all loan accounts will be categorized as NPAs, even if the other accounts continue to be serviced.
  • As per a report of SBI, ECLGS was crucial in keeping MSMEs afloat, as it saved an estimated 13.5lakh MSME accounts, 1.5 crore jobs and prevented 14% of outstanding MSME loans amounting to 18 lakh crore turning bad.

About ECLGS scheme:

  • Ministry: Ministry of Finance 
  • To provide financial assistance to pandemic hit economy by provide Rupees 3 lakh unsecured loan to MSMEs and companies

News 14: IIM dropout, BBA, MBA students among 7 held for drugs smuggling through darknet

Background: Seven persons, including an IIM dropout and a fashion designer, have been arrested by the Delhi police for allegedly sourcing drugs such as LSD, MDMA and marijuana from abroad through darknet and supplying it to college and school students through courier service

Darknet:

 


One liner:

  1. Russia is the world’s second largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia.
  2. Russia is the world’s top natural gas exporter.

 

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